In a major boost to the Indian startup ecosystem, Delhi-based Brun Health and Kerala-based Ajna won the Singularity University Global Impact Challenge (GIC) India 2018, organised in Trivandrum by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and Silicon Valley-based think tank Singularity University (SU). The startups will be flying to Silicon Valley to participate in a 10-week, all-expense-paid, transformational SU venture incubator programme.
During the seven-day event, 24 startups shortlisted from across the country attended the boot camp session for five days, made their pitch to the judges on the sixth day, and the event ended on Saturday with a huge push for 10 startups.
Commenting on the event, Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, said: “The SingularityU India Global Impact Challenge 2018, coordinated by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), is a great step forward in harnessing the transformative potentials of technology. It is heartening to see that young innovators are focused on resolving global challenges with the aid of technology. We wish these young innovators success in their endeavours. Kerala can be an arable land for their dreams, as it is emerging as a hub for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.”
At the India GIC, which started on July 2, the organisers aimed at identifying inspiring startups trying to find solutions addressing global challenges in learning, healthcare, and environment.
With a focus on innovation to address the problems of the world, the other three startups that made it to the top five were EasyKrishi from Karnataka, SunEmison Solar from Chhattisgarh, and SignNEXT Assistive Technology LLP of Kerala. They were awarded certificates and a cash prize of INR 50K each.
Rejina Njima, director, Global Impact Competitions, Singularity University, while addressing the media on the occasion, said, “The kind of startups that I am seeing in India, here in Kerala, of course coming from all over India, are really some of the top three compared to the startups that we see all over the world. And that says a lot about the work that you are doing in this country.”
The five other startups that made it to the top 10 were SignNEXT Assistive Technology LLP, NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats Pvt Ltd, Biome (Kerala and Maharashtra), EyeROV (Kerala), Genrobotic Innovations (Kerala), and Pentavalent BioSciences Pvt Ltd (Karnataka).
Of these, the six-Kerala based startups will get a chance to participate in the first-ever Kerala Innovation Impact Challenge, which will be held in September. The winner will get INR 80 lakh as prize money.
“This is the first time the Singularity University chapter has happened in India here. We thought that it would be a good idea for us to host the Global Impact Challenge. The idea is how many actually use technology for transformative purposes and how do you get it mentored by top evangelists of technology in the world,” said Dr Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM.
What Do The Winning Startups Do?
Founded in 2014 by Balaji Teegalaji and Manisha Laroia, Delhi-based Brun Health is a medical device company that is disrupting maternity healthtech with a focus on fetal health.
It designs technology-based, accessible and affordable solutions for pregnancy monitoring, targeting primary health centres (PHCs) and maternity clinics. It is on a mission to deploy 1,500 devices by 2019.
Talking to Inc42, Balaji said that the company’s target market is all the maternity hospitals beyond the top-tier ones; Brun is currently running a pilot project in AIIMS Patna and Delhi in this regard.
Trivandrum-based Ajna was founded in January 2018 by Jikku Jose, Nikhil Mohan, Nathan Wadhwani, and Jipin Matthew as a blockchain-based asset management system for land records.
Nathan told Inc42 that they were working with blockchain and had found a use case for it in logging (the cutting down of trees for commercial purposes). Ajna has open-source solutions to stave off illegal logging that leads to deforestation and climate change, using autonomous drones, deep learning, and blockchain.
Ajna, which is still in the development and validation phase, expects the GIC Challenge win to help it refine its product, network, and get it some potential pilots. The startup believes it can use the incubation support and mentorship to make progress in its goal of solving the huge illegal logging problem.